France has already taken several steps to further legitimise esports as an industry in the past twelve months. And now they're taking another step in that direction by establishing some boundaries around fixed term contracts for players.
Esports is getting a bit of play in France right now, with the country's lawmakers set to debate the industry this week as part of discussions on the Bill For A Digital Republic. The bill was introduced last year and the French Senate is now reviewing the legislation, with a formal vote to be held May 3 local time next week.
Where the amendment gets interesting for esports is the way it extends the definition of athletes to include those participating in video game tournaments. Here's a Google translation of an amendment that spells it out pretty clearly.
The professional player competitive gaming employee is defined as any person whose gainful employment exercise a competitive video game business in a legal subordination with an association or a company which is authorized by the Minister loaded digital, specified by regulation. The Labour Code is applicable to professional football competitive gaming employee, with the exception of Articles L. 1221-2, L. 1241-1 to L. 1242-9, L. 1242-12, L. 1242-13, L. 1242-17, L. 1243-7 to L. 1243-10, L. 1243-13 to L. 1245-1, L. 1246-1 and L. 1248-1 to L. from 1248 to 1211 relating to the work contract of limited duration.
There's a whole range of other measures that we'll undoubtedly see discussed in Australia at some point. One of those is the right for someone to have data removed or deleted if it was published online when they were a minor. "This will make it possible, for example, to request that photos of holidays or parties, posted when a young girl was a minor and which could prejudice her in finding a work placement or a job," the French government says.
But the major impact, if passed, would be the expansion of France's Labor Code to cover professional gamers. The amendment would also make fixed-term contracts the standard for esports in the country.
Here's the translation on the minimum length for the contracts:
III. - To ensure the protection of professional players of competitive gaming and ensure fair competition, any contract by which an association or a company with the approval provided for in Article I of this ensures remuneration, the assistance of one of these employees is a contract of limited duration. IV. - The duration of a contract mentioned in III may be less than the duration of a competitive video game season of twelve months. However, a contract under competitive video game competition season can last less than twelve months, under conditions specified by regulation 1. Once it runs at least until the end of the competitive video game season; 2. If it is determined to ensure the replacement of a professional player competitive video game in the absence of professional player or suspension of his employment contract.
Apart from the basics, the contracts will also have "the names and addresses of supplementary pension funds and pension and the organisations providing the extended health coverage". A few professionals have been lucky enough to have healthcare provided for them in the past, but this would be the first time healthcare has become mandatory for esports contracts anywhere in the world.
Another aspect of all of this is the fact that esports was previously classified as gambling, making it illegal and presenting a massive barrier to organisers wanting to run gaming events in the country. The move has some benefits for the government too: by moving it out of the realm of gambling into officialdom, players will be able to officially pay taxes on their earnings and winnings.
The government is strongly behind the change, and has created a helpful infographic to make some of their arguments (which also cuts through some of the legalese nicely).
There's also a 74 page report into the industry, although it's only in French. I've emailed the department for an English copy, and if that's made available I'll pass on some of the more interesting findings.